If time and cost are reasons to avoid going back to school, here’s a reason to reconsider: free online and local in-person classes and courses. Self-paced online courses are ideal for people who prefer to learn on their own time, while in-person resources offer everything from French classes to knitting.
Clear your calendar, select your classes and commit to some educational enrichment.
Swift Playgrounds. Created for users of Apple products, this app is ideal for beginners. Swift Playgrounds helps users build interactive puzzles, learn basic coding skills and advance at their own pace to bring ideas to fruition. The app is ideal for children 8 and up, as well as educators, developers and students. apple.com/swift/playgrounds
Scratch. Created in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, this fun and educational platform helps kids learn to code, enhance problem-solving skills, and develop online stories, games and animations with easy-to-use templates, graphics and colors. In recent years, updates have included extensions for Lego robotics and Google Translate. The site also features a TED Talks video about the benefits of learning to code as a child, educator resources and content translation pages in over 70 languages. scratch.mit.edu
For all learners
Metro Atlanta library systems. Libraries are rich with educational materials and access, including in-person and online classes. There are hundreds of offerings — whether as one-off classes, limited series or ongoing sessions — throughout metro Atlanta. In the coming weeks, area libraries will offer in-person tax filing assistance, English as a second language classes, lessons in playing mahjong, speaking conversational French and getting young children ready for school.
Check online for specific events and times which vary by branch. Cobb County Public Library, cobbcounty.org/library; DeKalb County Public Library, dekalblibrary.org; Fulton County Library System, fulcolibrary.org; Gwinnett County Public Library, gwinnettpl.org
For adult learners
Coursera. Create a free Coursera account and take one of 2,600 online courses taught by instructors at esteemed domestic and international universities and companies. Learn about maternal and newborn care at Yale University and applications in engineering mechanics at Georgia Tech, or take a call at Emory University. The site allows users to select the subject matter, timeframe and educational institution, making it easy to customize. coursera.org
Harvard University. Here’s your chance to attend an Ivy League university for free. The private research university in Massachusetts created a website listing its free course offerings including Introduction to Family Engagement in Education, Negotiating Salary and a fundamental principles of architecture course called The Architectural Imagination. There are more than 100 self-paced courses currently available ranging from one to 10 weeks. Courses are hosted via Edx.com, an educational platform that posts the syllabus, prerequisites and learning objectives. You’ll see that courses from Harvard are dubbed HarvardX and available as audit classes for a limited time, usually several weeks. pll.harvard.edu
Edx. In addition to Harvard University courses, Edx offers almost 3,000 courses from institutions including Georgetown University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, Rice University, Stanford University, University of Toronto, New York University and Atlanta’s own Georgia Tech. edx.org
LinkedIn Learning. Sign up for a one-month trial to access business, creative and technology courses taught by industry professionals. Premium job salary information and work insights are also available during the trial period. Participants can choose from courses such as Writing with Impact, Content Creation: Strategy and Tools and Data Science Foundations. Courses vary from two-minute videos to in-depth, multi-hour classes. All are available as audio‑only and offer offline viewing so participants can choose what works best for their schedule. linkedin.com/learning